Match Report: Walsall 1 Scunthorpe United 2 Match Report: Walsall 1 Scunthorpe United 2

Match Report: Walsall 1 Scunthorpe United 2

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League One clash between Walsall and Scunthorpe United.
The Saddlers arrived at this weekend's match on the back of a disappointing defeat to Bolton Wanderers in the Third Round of the FA Cup, a match which saw them ship five goals during the second-half to crash out of the competition.

Dean Keates' side were also looking to halt a run of league results which has seen his side slip ever-closer to the relegation zone, adding plenty of pressure to an already delicate situation.

Scunthorpe United started the match brightly, with the Walsall defences working hard to limit their early chances. After a good spell of pressure from the Iron during the opening eight minutes, the Saddlers finally managed to create their first half-chance, but after some good work from Luke Leahy and Andy Cook, James Perch beat Joe Edwards to the ball inside the box and cleared the danger.

With just eleven minutes on the clock, Walsall were forced to make their first change of the afternoon, as Morgan Ferrier appeared to tweak his hamstring, leaving the forward unable to continue with Josh Gordon taking his place.

Just a minute after the substitution, Scunthorpe took the lead, winning a corner which was played to Funso Ojo, who volleyed home from the edge of the box. Poor defending from the Saddlers, allowing the midfielder far too much space to take the shot.

The visitors continued to look the brighter side, with some good play from Rory McArdle and George Thomas almost setting up Kyle Wootton to grab a second in the seventeenth minute, but the final touch had just a little too much on it for the forward.

The Saddlers almost found an equaliser in the nineteenth minute, with their first real chance of the day, with Zeli Ismail racing forwards, before playing the ball to Cook inside the box, but the strikers eighteen yard, low, driven effort was tipped around the post by an alert Jak Alnwick, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

There was a brief pause in proceedings in the twenty-first minute, allowing Perch to receive treatment following a knock to the head during an aerial challenge, but the defender was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

The hosts continued to enjoy a better spell as the game continued, with some clever play from Matt Jarvis playing in Cook in in the twenty-fourth minute, but the striker was unable to get enough on his headed effort to turn the ball goal-wards.

As we reached the half hour mark, the Saddlers again worked the ball into shooting range, but Edwards, right-footed effort from the left of the box sailed wide of Alnwick’s upright, without troubling the ‘keeper.

There was another halt to proceedings in the thirty-third minute, as Cook fell to the ground, holding his shoulder, but after a spell of treatment, the striker was able to continue.

With forty-one minutes on the clock, Josh Gordon became the first player to enter the referee’s notebook, picking up a yellow card for a late challenge on McArdle.

Two minutes later, James Perch joined Gordon in the referee’s notebook, seeing yellow for a foul on Ismail.

Three additional minutes were added to end the first-half, but neither side was able to make use of them, and they headed off for their half-time refreshments with Scunthorpe’s one-goal lead intact.

0 - 1

The sides returned unchanged after the break, and the second-half got underway. Scunthorpe started the half brightly, with Thomas and Novak combining just two minutes in, to draw a save from Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts.A minute later, the Iron won a free-kick in a dangerous position, which McMahon fired straight into the wall, sending the ball out of play for a throw-in.

Somewhat against the run of play, the Saddlers levelled the scores in the fifty-third minute, as Nicky Devlin picked up the ball a distance from goal, raced into the box, beating two players en-route and fired a scorching, right-footed effort past Alnwick. A superb piece of individual skill, and just what his side, and the game, needed.

The game settled following the goal, with both sides seeing plenty of the ball, whilst not really creating much of note, until the Saddlers won a corner in the sixty-seventh minute, which the visiting defences were able to deal with.

The Iron were quick to work the ball up to the other end following the flag-kick, with Perch, Levi Sutton and Thomas combining to get the ball into the Saddlers box, where Novak did supremely well to lift the ball over Roberts and into the back of the net to restore his sides earlier advantage.

With seventy-four minutes on the clock, Scunthorpe opted to make their first change of the afternoon, introducing Byron Webster into the fray, in place of Kyle Wootton.

Luke Leahy became the third player to enter the referee’s notebook in the seventy-fifth minute, picking up a yellow card for a foul on Sutton.

In the seventy-ninth minute, the Iron opted to make a second change to their line-up, with George Thomas departing to make way for Clayton Lewis.

The game continued as something of a midfield battle, with both sides seeing the ball without creating anything going forwards before Scunthorpe opted to make their third and final change in the eighty-fifth minute, introducing Matthew Lund in place of James Perch for the final few minutes.

Moments later, the Saddlers opted to make a change of their own, introducing debutant, Omar Mussa in place of Isaiah Osbourne.

Five minutes were added to end the match, but neither side was able to produce another moment of magic before the referee brought an end to the contest. The Iron ultimately taking all three points back to Lincolnshire thanks to goals from Ojo and Novak, as Walsall again failed to really get going.

1 - 2
Devlin (53')

Ojo (12')
Novak (68')
Attendance: 3,984 (441)
Referee: Matt Donohue
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